The City University of New York’s board of trustees has created a new university-wide policy that grants professors two business days after finals week to submit their final grades. Queens College faculty previously had a period of two weeks after the Fall semester to submit grades.
The new policy, which applies to both Fall and Spring terms, was announced on September 18, and was shared through a memo to the various departments at QC.
In the past, the QC academic senate, which is usually charged with determining academic policy, would set the deadline for professors to submit final grades.
“Most of the time changes like these would be discussed,” Alexander Reichl, a political science professor and senator on academic senate, said. “We had no say in it.”
There had previously been mention of the possibility that a deadline would be created, but the decision was made by the board of trustees and shared with the colleges after.
“New CUNY policy is enforced by the board of trustees,” Dr. Elizabeth Hendrey, the Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at QC, said. “We have no choice.”
Some faculty members raised concerns about the new policy, believing that it could strain professors by greatly reducing the amount of time they have to grade. For professors like Reichl, who have over a hundred students and nearly 200 papers to grade, the new deadline could make it difficult to include writing assignments for final exams.
“I don’t know how I can assign writing assignments for so and so students for a final exam,” Reichl said. “It doesn’t seem fair to students. It doesn’t seem justified to the educational standards the students have, and we have.”
Furthermore, the period to finalize grades coincides with the holidays; finals week ends on December 20 and grades are due on December 26.
“Someone’s always gonna have the unfair end,” Manuel Sanudo, the chairperson of Academic Senate, said.
Sanudo recalled one incident that occurred to a student. The student needed to obtain a certain number of credits in order to gain a pay raise in his career. However, due to the comparatively lax nature of the previous deadline policy, he did not get his credits in time to get the pay raise.
The new policy would help prevent those kinds of situations and expedite the process for students to get their credits. The policy is described as part of a larger effort to consolidate CUNY policy and further centralize the university system.
“Once CUNY decides to implement uniform policy, we have to follow it,” Hendrey said.
Although the new deadline was enacted this semester, the administration has offered to extend it for select faculty.
“If individual faculty members need extensions we will work with them,” Hendrey said.
CUNY’s stance has marked a departure from their previously hands-off approach in allowing QC to set academic policy.
“You could say it’s an insult to effort to make things easier at Queens College or you could say maybe it’s for the students,” Sanudo said.